After the first round of European fixtures in both the Champions League and Europa League, some Premier League teams have more work to do than others in order to lay down a marker.
A total of seven English teams are participating across the two European tournaments, whose results read after the first round of matches: won three, drawn one and lost three. It was a mixed bag with some performances, such as Liverpool’s and Tottenham’s, that were severely lacking quality in the final third.
It should be a given that all four Champions League teams – Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea – are going to field their strongest sides possible with every game before qualification into the knockout rounds is confirmed.
Even if Jurgen Klopp is chasing after his club’s first Premier League title in the modern era, the Reds’ fans will demand to see their team defending their European trophy. Even though Liverpool have not strengthened the overall squad, they were unfortunate not to have gone all the way and achieve the double last year – Klopp’s players will not be fazed by the fixture congestion that will arrive.
Manchester City and even Chelsea to a lesser extent have squads capable of focussing on both the Champions League and Premier League simultaneously, even without Frank Lampard being able to use the transfer market as his ally last summer.
Tottenham, however, are a club that may have reinforced during the transfer window, but not only look light when stripping away the first 11, but also a team that is disgruntled with its key players not overly enthusiastic of still being in North London.
The way that Spurs crumbled empathically against an average Olympiacos side, along with their level of performance in the league, suggests Mauricio Pochettino has an even bigger task this season to motivate his players and keep the dressing room in check. It is likely to be a testing season for the Argentinean, especially with Christian Eriksen running his contract down and potentially leaving as early as January.
When looking at the Europa League teams, Manchester United and Arsenal have a whole string of youth players ready to take to the field and make a difference. In both of their opening games, against FC Astana and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively, Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock impressed hugely in determining the results of the two matches.
As the tournament progresses, more first-team players are likely to come into the frame when reaching the quarter-finals onwards, but the Red Devils and the Gunners are littered with youth internationals that are capable of running the course and progressing out of the group.
Where European football hurts teams is when the squad is not used to the two games per week, as well as not possessing the right amount of quality that can be relied upon to record results.
Burnley fell into this category in the 2018-19 season where they could not even make the group stages of the Europa League after losing to Olympiacos. Their league form suffered even with the minimal amount of games added to their schedule, which took a lot of time to correct as the season went forth.
Wolverhampton Wanderers might have a more established team on paper, but the effects of European football is having an effect on their form. Nuno Santos’ side have already had six matches in the Europa League before they came up against SC Braga, which was a wholly disappointing and wasteful performance that ended in a 0-1 defeat.
After such a brilliant display throughout all of last season, Wolves have only recorded three points in the Premier League and continue to struggle at home. The expectation is now firmly on finishing in the top seven, but with two games per-week and injuries appearing here and there, the Portuguese manager will hope to implement a game plan to combat their deficiencies.
There is plenty of time to turn things around for Wolves, Tottenham and Chelsea, but with how lucrative the Premier League is now, one eye will always firmly be on trying to either remain in the division, or finish in the top four.